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Predicting plant invasion success

Predicting plant invasion success - nsf.gov National...

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NSF Web Site Press Release 11-021 Home and Away: Are Invasive Plant Species Really That Special? Invasive plants are a major environmental problem--but how abundant are they? Research in Sevilleta, N.M., shows that plant abundance at home predicts abundance away. Credit and Larger Version February 1, 2011 Invasive plant species are a serious environmental, economic and social problem worldwide. Their abundance can lead to lost native biodiversity and ecosystem functions, such as nutrient cycling. Despite substantial research, however, little is known about why some species dominate new habitats over native plants that technically should have the advantage. A common but rarely tested assumption, say biologists, is that these plants behave in a special way, making them more abundant when introduced into communities versus native plants that are already there. If true, it would mean that biosecurity screening procedures need to address how species will behave once introduced to nonnative communities--very difficult to get right, researchers have found. Scientists in a global collaboration called the Nutrient Network tested this "abundance assumption" for 26 plant species at 39 locations on four continents and found numerous problems with it.
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